Environmental Stewardship Institute

Youth Empowerment Program 2019 full group

Our Mission: The Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) fosters a diverse next generation of environmental leaders through an immersive program of local river issues and professional development that supports an interdisciplinary exploration of the environmental field.

FMR created the Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) in 2019 to address the gap between environmental education and a career path in the environmental field.

While many high schools offer green teams or eco clubs, many young people don't have the opportunity to explore what a career in the environmental field can look like. As an environmental organization, FMR wants to use our resources to help address that gap, in turn growing a stronger, more equitable future for the environmental movement.

ESI provides paid job experience and foundational learning to a group of students, our ESI fellows, curious about environmental career paths. Participating, fellows are more prepared for continued schooling in environmental subjects and have work experience to lean on for future job opportunities across a variety of disciplines in the environmental field. 

Program design

As FMR's career pathways initiative, ESI is made up of two major programs: a two-month summer intensive in which fellows learn from environmental experts, visit ecologically important sites and work on youth-led projects related to the river and the environment; and the ESI Youth Advisory Council, a school-year program focused on leadership development and environmental advocacy, which we started in 2021.

ESI summer intensive

We invite a variety of speakers to lead discussions on the topics fellows want to learn about. We craft field trips and activities to labs, habitat restorations and more. While the program content focuses on environmental issues, we also practice job skills like crafting resumes and cover letters, networking and informational interviews.

Graduates' final projects

Each year, fellows design and carry out their own capstone project. These independent projects encourage them to deepen their understanding of an environmental issue in their community, as well as build research skills and have an impact on the local community.

Fellows have made art to showcase issues like microplastics in clean water, installed receptacles for fishing line at a local park, mapped environmental justice issues in the Twin Cities and more. See projects from 2019, from 2020, and from 2021.

ESI Youth Advisory Council

The ESI Youth Advisory Council is a school-year program that engages high school youth in leadership development and advocacy.

The council educates themselves and others on environmental issues, takes leadership roles and collaborates with the community in order to combat the problems facing the environment. They work alongside FMR staff and share input with both our staff and board on future youth program development, including the summer ESI intensive.

Find out more about our inaugural Youth Advisory Council.

Follow the ESI program on Instagram!

Apply for the summer intensive or the Youth Advisory Council

Applications are now closed for the 2022 ESI summer intensive cohort. Check back in August for Youth Advisory Council applications.

FMR's Environmental Stewardship Insitute is part of our larger Stewardship and Education program. Check out our other opportunities for youth and for all ages to get involved with FMR.

Learn more about our other educational programs.

If you have questions, please contact us at education@fmr.org or 651.222.2193 x16.